How to Find the Best Johns Creek Wealth Management Team for you
Finding the right wealth management advisor can feel daunting, especially when you’re searching for one in the Johns Creek area. Given the plethora of advisors and services to choose from, it’s critical that you’re equipped with the right questions and criteria to filter candidates. With these in place, you’ll be able to pinpoint the advisor best suited to you.
In this article, you’ll be given a comprehensive guide to finding the best Johns Creek wealth management advisors. You’ll learn more about the importance of fiduciary standards, the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) status, and a fee-only pricing model. You’ll also be given a list of key questions to ask advisors when you speak to them one-on-one to help find the professional that’s right for you.
Ensure They Meet Fiduciary Standards
One of the most important pieces of criteria to consider when searching for financial advisors is fiduciary standards. That’s because advisors who act in a fiduciary capacity are legally obligated to prioritize your best interests above their own.
Fiduciary standards represent the pinnacle of ethical conduct in financial advisory services. That said, they do not always apply to financial professionals. For instance, broker-dealers are only bound by what’s known as the “suitability standard.”
In comparison to fiduciary standards, suitability standards are far more relaxed. This standard permits the recommendation of investments to clients based solely on potential returns. Put another way, a professional held to the suitability standard isn’t necessarily bound to your best interest.
For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure you’re dealing with a fiduciary. Fortunately, there are certain professional credentials that can easily help you identify such individuals.
Check For Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) Status
An important credential for your advisory firm to have is that of a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). This status ensures adherence to fiduciary standards that are mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Additionally, as an RIA, the firm you work with will also have to uphold the following responsibilities:
Best Execution: RIAs must identify the most advantageous ways to improve your portfolio’s value. They also need to scrutinize the strategies they propose to you from multiple perspectives. They’ll have to consider factors such as historical performance and overall expenses when presenting you with a solution.
Advice and Monitoring: RIAs are required to regularly communicate with you about the state of your portfolio. You won’t be left in the dark in regard to your financial future.
Loyalty: RIAs are expected to transparently reveal any potential conflicts of interest that might arise during their professional interactions with you. Additionally, RIAs must ensure that you are properly informed about the strategies they are recommending.
Client Best Interest: RIAs have a duty to make sure they understand your personal financial goals and objectives. Moreover, they must be confident that the solutions they are recommending are tailored to such goals and objectives.
Look For Fee-Only Pricing
There’s a significant distinction between advisors who operate on a “fee-only” model and those who use a “fee-based” model. Fee-only advisors do not earn commissions. Instead, they apply a flat fee on your assets under management (AUM). To put it simply, a fee-only advisor is only able to take home more money if you’re doing the same.
With fee-based advisors, it’s a different story. Fee-based advisors are able to earn commissions from their work with you. The problem with this is that a fee-based advisor can become motivated to act against your best interests. They may recommend a proprietary product that’s more expensive and has a less impressive track record because they will personally receive more money for doing so.
To make sure you’re dealing with a fee-only advisor, check to see if they are a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), which is a top-notch association of fee-only advisors. You can also explore to see if they are part of the Fee-Only Network.
Other Questions to Ask When Looking For A Financial Advisor in Johns Creek
On top of checking for the Registered Investment Advisor status, fee-only pricing, and fiduciary standards, there are some additional questions you’ll want to ask an advisor when speaking with them one-on-one. Below, you’ll be given a list of key questions to ask to make sure an advisor is right for you.
What Are My Total Costs?
Understanding your total, all-in costs for receiving financial advice from a professional is essential for a few reasons:
Transparency: It’s important that your advisor is open and honest about their costs. This encompasses not only their fees, but also any additional charges such as account setup or maintenance costs, as well as any other potential fees that may apply. Transparency will be the cornerstone of your relationship with your advisor and there’s no better place to start than with price.
Budgeting: Knowing the total costs of your advisor’s service will also help you budget accurately. If you aren’t aware of key expenses, you might find yourself in a difficult financial position later on.
Comparing Services: To make an informed choice about what advisor to work with, you need to know all the costs that are involved. This will enable you to compare different services and select the one that provides the best value for the cost.
Understanding the Impact on Returns: All fees and costs associated with an investment reduce your returns. Even small fees can have a significant impact over time due to compounding interest. By knowing the total costs of working with an advisor, you can make more accurate projections about your potential returns.
What Clients Do You Specialize In Serving?
Understanding the types of clients an advisor is experienced in serving is crucial. It will help you determine whether or not they may be a good fit for your specific needs and financial circumstances.
Financial advisors often specialize in certain areas based on a combination of their experience, expertise, and personal passions. Some may cater to clients nearing retirement. Others may focus their attention on serving clients with small businesses or those who have significant wealth to manage.
If an advisor specializes in serving clients similar to you, they will likely be more familiar with the specific financial situations, challenges, and goals that you’re facing. Additionally, specialization can also suggest that the advisor has a deeper understanding of the laws, regulations, and best practices most applicable to people in your situation. For example, an advisor that assists clients nearing retirement may be more knowledgeable about tax efficiency in relation to retirement planning as well as how to maximize Social Security benefits.
How Will Our Relationship Work?
Asking an advisor about your ongoing relationship is critical. You will want to establish expectations and have a firm understanding of how you will work together. This question helps clarify communication norms and the frequency of meetings and updates.
Some advisors might take a more proactive approach, regularly touching base with updates and recommendations. Others might prefer to meet less frequently, perhaps only for a few yearly reviews or major life changes (ex: getting married). Knowing your advisor’s communication style and frequency helps ensure your own preferences and expectations will be met.
What Is Your Investment Philosophy?
Your advisor’s investment philosophy is one of the most important factors in deciding whether or not they will be right for you. Their philosophy reveals their attitudes, beliefs, and approaches toward financial planning solutions and investment management. This philosophy will influence their advice and your portfolio’s management.
An investment philosophy can vary widely across different advisors. Some may be more aggressive, favoring high-risk, high-return investments. Others may be more conservative, focusing on steady growth and the preservation of wealth. Some advisors might advocate for active management, making more frequent adjustments in response to market conditions. Other advisors may prefer a passive, buy-and-hold approach to investing.
By asking this question, you can find out if an advisor’s philosophy aligns with your financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment preferences. With an alignment on investment philosophy, the relationship between you and your advisor has a better chance of being long-term and harmonious.
Who Is Your Custodian?
Before working with an advisor, you will want to know how your investments will be protected. A custodian is a financial institution that holds your securities for safekeeping and protects your assets from risks like theft. Custodians may also provide services such as administering accounts, settling transactions, and collecting dividends or interest payments, which can also help protect you from fraudulent activity or misuse of funds.
Once you know the custodian your financial advisor uses, you can conduct your own due diligence on the provider. You will want to make sure your assets are going to be held by a reputable organization. The choice of custodian can also impact your investing experience. For example, the custodian’s technology capabilities can affect access to your accounts, reporting features, and ability to execute transactions. Fees charged by the custodian can also affect your overall costs.
Knowing your advisor’s custodian can also provide you with some much-needed relief. The fact that your advisor isn’t the custodian themselves can add a layer of protection to the assets you’re entrusting to their care. Ultimately, asking about the custodian is integral to keeping your wealth safe, understanding costs, and setting investing experience expectations.
Talk to a Johns Creek Wealth Management Advisor at CW O’Conner
At CW O’Conner, we hold integrity as a core value when serving clients. That’s why we do business as a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), treat all clients with fiduciary standards of care, and utilize a fee-only compensation model.
Our team is heavily experienced in helping pre-retirees, retirees, and small business owners take, and maintain control over their financial lives. We’re able to leverage our experience in helping clients across a variety of industries to tailor an investment strategy that’s both passive and active in its approach to getting you closer to your individual retirement goals.
Don’t wait to find the right Johns Creek financial advisor! If you’re interested to learn if we may be the best fit, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can reach out to us directly at 770-368-9919, or you can fill out a contact card, and we’ll reach out to you.
The opinions and analysis expressed herein are based on C.W. O’Conner Wealth Advisors, Inc. research and professional experience and are expressed as of the date of this report. Please consult with your advisor, attorney and accountant, as appropriate, regarding specific advice.
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